Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Enclosing Emptiness

I spend a lot of time explaining to beginning knitters that we have to make the holes that the eye sees as pattern in lace knitting. They aren't something you leave out; they're something you create. Then I get blank looks from the knitting students. It's the task of the teacher to find the words to help the students understand. Clearly I still have work to do here.

I'm in the middle (okay, really it's the beginning) of a circular lace tablecloth for a friend, so I was musing about this issue again last night. I've decided that what we're really doing with lace-making techniques is enclosing emptiness. We shape air, and openness, and possibility into patterns. (Aren't we just the clever things?)

But while I'm on the knit row of you-don't-want-to-know-how-many stitches, I've got a lot of time to think. Isn't that what everyone does, all the time? Make patterns out of simple materials and possibility?

There are at least two other ways I'm doing this right now. My man is home for the Thanksgiving holidays. Five days of togetherness!!! We spent most of yesterday re-figuring out the pattern of life together. It took a little while. I'm not sure what anyone else could learn from this experience. How common is it for couples to choose to live apart for a year, after all? Yet I'm thinking now that it's not exactly emptiness I'm experiencing when he's gone. It feels like it is, heaven knows, but I'm in the process of shaping it into something. And when he comes back, he'll be knit back into the pattern.

And secondly, there's impending winter. As a displaced Southerner, I have a serious attitude problem about northern winters. In fact, I try to ignore winter as much as possible and through the force of my not inconsiderable will make it go away. You have me to thank every spring, just so you know ;) But as life comes indoors and I have to put my bicycle away and change the pattern of my days and nights, I become more ...quiet.... meditative.... almost domestic. Okay, possibly domestic is a bit of a stretch. But the fact is that there's some emptiness and a little dread about starting winter's span again.

I've always thought of myself as fighting the emptiness -little warrior Andrea brandishing her sword. Or more like Scarlett O'Hara, I suppose, shaking her fist in the sunset. "As God as my witness, I'll never be -cold- again." (Scarlett says "hungry", but you get the idea.) Maybe the reason this has never worked very well is that it's the wrong metaphor. I doubt I could go as far as embracing the emptiness, but perhaps I could enclose it, shape it, form it into something. I could cook, and knit, and quilt, and sew and write and light candles and read -and find joy in all of those things. Things, by the way, I hardly have time to do in the busier outdoor seasons of the year.

Now I'm up to the lace-making row and I have to pay attention to that. No more musing for a little while....


1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

Great post, Andrea. I really do get the part about "re-figuring the pattern of life together." My husband and I spent four years in a sort of half-time marriage, and when that ended, we had a bit of a challenge figuring out how to live together again...

Illinois winters can be brutal, can't they? Still, we saw a hell of a lot more sun back in Chicago during the winter than we do here in the Pacific Northwest. Doesn't make me want to move back, though. As my dad always said, "You don't have to shovel rain..."